Moulton on Translation

This is a quote about the LXX translators – well, at least one – from Moulton’s Prolegomena.

The Greek translator, endeavouring to be as literal as he could, nevertheless took care to use Greek that was possible, however unidiomatic a—a description well suiting the kind of language used in every age by translators who have gained the conscientious accuracy, but not the sure-footed freedom, of the mature scholar.

James Hope Moulton, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, Volume 1: Prolegomena. (Vol. 1: 2d ed.; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1906), 76.

Why should we choose “conscientious accuracy” over “the sure-footed freedom of the mature scholar”?

2 thoughts on “Moulton on Translation

  1. Mike, you ought to read Al Pietersma’s essay on the LXX as a schoolwork “interlinear” Hebrew-Greek translation (http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~pietersm/interlinear.pdf) — I think that (a) it explains a lot about the Greek of the LXX, and (b) it has a bearing on the value and utility of interlinear Greek-English NT editions as well as upon the question why translating the GNT into English continues to be the fundamental “proof of the pudding” of success in learning NT Greek (the implication would seem to be: if one learns NT Greek adequately one might be able to produce an English translation with English about as wooden and quaint as is the Greek of the LXX.

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